"Just because I love you as you are doesn’t mean that I have given up all hope of your improvement.."
"I always call Lucius Malfoy 'your father.' That is all he is to me... all he has been, since the moment I first realized what he was up to with those awful friends of his." Narcissa's tone was sharp, bitter.
"The Death Eaters," Draco said quietly.
"At first I was young, in love, and turned a blind eye to his doings. I didn't know what that brand on his arm meant. By the time I accepted what was happening I was pregnant, and though I tried to stop him, he never listened. Always talking about 'his Lord...' He was always gone, always off with You-Know-Who and his minions. The one time I tried to leave him, he flew into a rage, and hit me. He had never done that before. I feared for you then, my unborn child. And though I no longer loved him I stayed because I knew he would hunt me down. I hated him then. For being so weak. So easily seduced by corruption and power."
Draco said nothing, and his mother took a deep breath and went on.
"Sometime after I gave birth to you, Harry Potter was born. The Boy Who Lived. And it seemed like everything was finally working out... your father denounced his friends, his activites, You-Know-Who. He gave sizeable donations to the Ministry of Magic and to various charities. He stayed at home, and was most devoted to you. The period right after You-Know-Who's first downfall was a blissful one, for your father was on his best behavior, and yet it didn't last. Soon he was embroiled in unsavory deals and situations again. I wanted to leave him, but I was afraid he would hurt not just me but you, so I stayed. And made sure that there would be no other children. That's why you're an only child."
A hesitation, then Draco voiced for the first time the question that he mulled over whenever he looked at hi mother. "Why didn't you ever stop him from using the Unforgivable Curses on me?"
"I couldn't." Narcissa's voice was barely perceptible. "He used them on me too."
A sigh. Draco said, "You should have just called him 'Lucius,' mother. He wasn't any more a father to me than he was a husband to you."
Draco ground his teeth and tightened his grip on his broom. Damn, but he hated being booed at. Sure, he was used to being booed at by the rest of the school, but the Slytherins booing at him... this was something new.
He had just swerved in front of Marvin on purpose, blocking the Slytherin Chaser from making a shot. His interference had cost them twenty points, the ten they had lost and the ten the Hufflepuffs had managed to score when Marvin in his shock had dropped the quaffle, straight into the arms of a Hufflepuff chaser who wasted no time in hurling it through a goalpost.
"What the hell was that?" Marvin yelled. He didn't wait around for a response. He shot off to retrieve the quaffle in an attempt tosalvage the situation, leaving the older Slytherin feeling like an utter moron.
Of their own accord, Draco's eyes started searching the quidditch pitch. Not for the snitch, but for that flash of coppery red hair... there she was. Ginny Weasley, sitting between Harry Potter and Ron Weasley.
Sitting with her arms folded across her chest. Looking bored. Looking completely unmoved! Draco's blood began to boil. Here he was, throwing a game for her, and she didn't even seem to care!
Draco clenched his fists and turned away. As he watched the Slytherin beater hit the bludger at some Hufflepuff, he imagined the bludger was Ginny's head.
He glanced at the scoreboard. His teammates had caught up to the Hufflepuffs; the score was tied again. Damn! And as a Hufflepuff player threw the quaffle at the goalpost, he could see the Keeper, Blaise Zabini, poised to deflect it. His teammates were simply too good; he would have to butt in again. He hardened his resolve.
Tightening his grip on his broom, he pretended to see the snitch next to Blaise. His dive for the imaginary snitch prevented the keeper from making his move, and the quaffle soared through the goalpost. Hufflepuff was in the lead again.
Draco ignored it. He had eyes only for Ginny.
Her head was bent, and she was talking to Ron. She wasn't even looking at the game. Her attention was completely on her brother, as though Draco wasn't performing the most noble deed of his young life right in front of her.
He was so angry his vision began to darken. Honor was lost on mudbloods!
"Look out for the snitch, damn you!" Marvin shouted as he flew past. But Draco had to make a conscious effort not to search for the snitch. If he saw it, he had a feeling he wouldn't be able to prevent himself from going after it.
By then the Slytherin team was getting at once bewildered and riled up, torn between the genuine respect they had come to have for Draco and their anger at the very obvious fact that he was screwing things up. A Slytherin chaser dropped the quaffle in the confusion, straight into the arms of the Hufflepuffs. They scored another ten points. Before anyone could react, they managed to score yet another. The score was now 80-50, and it wasn't the Slytherins who were winning.
Marvin, a look of intense determination on his face, intercepted the quaffle and made a spectacular shot. Draco instantly cut the ball off. The Hufflepuffs caught it and scored another ten points while Blaise buried his face in his hands in frustration.
Marvin bellowed out some curse words that mingled with the "boos" of the crowd. Draco, shaking with fury, turned his head towards the Gryffindor who had caused all this mayhem.
She was examining her nails. Draco almost dove towards her, his intent murderous. He was going to strangle that evil little –
Then suddenly, she looked up. Her act crumbled then, as she began to shiver, unable to fake nonchalance or disinterest any longer. She had been watching Draco lose, all right. He could see that. Those deep brown eyes locked on his, and to his amazement, she mouthed clearly, "Win."
All his anger drained out of him, and Draco froze in place, gazing at her lips. Had she said, "Win?"
"You can still win this, you moron!" she shrieked loudly. Ron and Harry looked at the crazy redhead next to them with amazement.
And for the first time since the game began, a grin split Draco's face, and immediately he was soaring upwards, looking for the golden snitch, feeling lighter than he had felt in months. He was going to win this.
The Hufflepuffs scored again. 100-50, but Draco no longer cared. All he cared about was finding the snitch.
And he saw it, that glimmer of gold and ivory that heralded victory most of the time. He grinned. No more attempts to intentionally lose. This was what he was good at.
He flew, and the wind rushed past his ears. He sensed the Hufflepuff seeker trying to catch up, and dismissed him as irrelevant.
A moment later, the snitch was in Draco's hand, its wings fluttering frantically inside his closed fist. He held it up triumphantly.
The cheers were mixed with boos, for no one had forgotten his earlier bungling of the Slytherin's game. But Draco felt better than he could remember feeling in a long, long while.
"You were cheering for Malfoy!"
Ginny winced at the harsh accusation in her brother's voice, but she said nothing. What could she say without revealing too much?
"You were cheering for Malfoy!" Ron repeated when she said nothing. This time he sounded more confused than angry.
Harry intervened. "Come on, Ron. It's not like Ginny kissed him or anything. She was just being nice. Did you see how awfully Malfoy played?"
Normally Ginny would have been delighted that Harry was defending her, but the words It's not like Ginny kissed him or anything kept ringing in her ears. She could feel her face burning. Ron would go berserk if he found out that she had actually snogged Draco.
But he had really done it… he had thrown the game for her. She thought of the Draco in Harry and Ron’s stories, the Malfoy who had set them up to be caught by Filch in their first year, the Malfoy who had called Hermione a mudblood in their second year, the Malfoy who had nearly gotten Hagrid sacked in their third year… yep, the list of his misdeeds were endless. He had definitely been a jerk.
And yet, Draco had kept his word, though it was only she who would ever know it. An odd warmth began to creep through her. Draco was different from what he had been.
“You were cheering for Malfoy!”
“I heard you the first time, Ron,” she said mildly.
“What do you have to say for yourself?” Ron sounded like an angry father.
Hermione sighed. “Come on, Ron. Harry’s right. Even I wanted Malfoy to shape up, he was playing so badly. And Ginny called him a moron, right in front of everyone. Doesn’t sound like she’s in love with him.”
Ron spluttered. And Ginny, throwing Harry and Hermione grateful glances, stood up and left the common room to think things over in her dorm.
“How many of us are left?”
“Five,” said Howling Night. The Death Eaters who were still roaming free had formed a group to avenge themselves, and they had given themselves codenames in the dangerous time right after Voldemort’s downfall. Now, as they plotted revenge, they retained the codenames. It was safer. “Medea was captured by Malfoy’s son and his friends not long after she left us. Near Hogwarts, in the Shrieking Shack. It was in the papers.”
Bitter Wand scowled. “What’s that kid’s number on our hit list?”
“What number are we on?”
“A long way to go. Maybe we should bump him up a little. He didn’t just betray his father and a few other Death Eaters, you know. I remember he couldn’t even kill Dumbledore.”
Their leader, Dark Moon, spoke up. “No.” His tone was final. “We don’t move anybody up on the hit list. Medea’s death was her own fault. She had some crazy idea of leaving us, leaving everything behind. And look where she is now. We must stick to our plan, exact revenge on all who helped in the downfall of our Lord.”
Howling Night nodded, and Bitter Wand’s scowl deepened. “Who’s number eight?”
“Before we get to Lupin, perhaps we should think about Potter. He’s number one on our list, and we skipped him.”
“He’s too well protected. We settle for merely hurting the loved ones of others, but Potter we must kill. And we must proceed as planned until we catch Potter unguarded, which may take awhile.”
“Lupin, then. Do we kill him or someone he loves?”
“Someone he loves. He’s one of those hero types, and that shall hurt him more.”
“That woman he’s with, the Auror… they call her Tonks.”
A/N: Sorry if it sucks… and please, review. I really want to know what people think, and suggestions are much appreciated.
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